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Carving the Way for Resounding Impact

Uniting for the common good

For more than a century, Rotary has united leaders who apply their expertise for the betterment of their communities. Started in Chicago by Paul P. Harris in 1905, Rotary has grown to represent more than 34,000 clubs and 1.2 million members worldwide. It has expanded in both scale and scope, from its decades-long charge to eradicate polio to its everyday commitment to empower youth, enhance health, promote peace and advance communities.

Despite its tremendous impact, its collective contributions were not fully understood by the broader public. Furthermore, advances in technology and a changing landscape—including an influx of micro-causes—made the task of recruiting and retaining members and appealing to strategic partners even more challenging.

Recognizing that past success doesn’t ensure future success, Rotary approached Siegel+Gale in 2011 to help simplify and amplify its brand expression and experience for greater understanding, relevance and impact across touchpoints.

Setting the wheel in motion

Siegel+Gale embarked on a collaborative and dynamic two-year partnership with Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation, whose global leadership team spanned continents and spoke multiple languages.

To successfully navigate this complex and decentralized organization, we used extensive global research to uncover universal themes and understand local nuances. With inputs representing audiences in 167 countries, we discovered that Rotary has all the strengths necessary for greatness. It was just not effectively communicating its approach and impact in terms relevant to external audiences. Our research confirmed that excessive branding of internal campaigns, use of insider terminology and a lack of brand tools resulted in a complex story and portfolio that obscured, rather than clarified, Rotary’s breadth and depth of impact.

Working in collaboration with a global steering committee, the Board of Directors of Rotary International and the Trustees of The Rotary Foundation, the team crystallized Rotary’s essence, activated its values and amplified its voice. A key part of the brand strategy was to simplify Rotary’s story and highlight its value. This included clarifying the criteria for membership (socially and ethically responsible leaders), elevating the benefit of bringing together diverse perspectives to solve problems (connecting for the common good) and, ultimately, defining the type of impact Rotary creates (community impact scaled globally).

To bring Rotary’s global impact, unprecedented scale and social responsibility to life, the team then developed a brand architecture framework that clearly signaled how audiences can engage with Rotary—join leaders (clubs), exchange ideas (peace centers, student exchanges, international conventions, etc.) and take action (local and global service projects).

Finally, in collaboration with Rotary’s global steering committee, Siegel+Gale refreshed the visual identity to energize Rotary’s look and feel, while celebrating its heritage. We did not set out to reinvent the wheel (logo). On the contrary, the team wanted to celebrate the wheel’s heritage and build upon a highly recognizable and globally respected identity that has unified and inspired Rotarians for over a century.

Elevating the Rotary name was the first critical step in re-energizing the logo. Not only did scaling up the word Rotary in proportion to the wheel symbol put the more proprietary identity component front and center, it unified the two parts of the organization—Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation—under one powerful banner. The wheel is applied boldly as a mark of excellence—a pledge of commitment, a symbol of leadership, a sign of social and ethical responsibility. We also made sure that it was optimized for digital use.

With a stronger primary logo in place, the team set out to build a bolder, easier-to-manage visual system that would continue to inspire creativity while enabling strategic decision-making and visual consistency across communications, media types and geographies. Together, a refreshed color palette, typography system and re-inspired approach to using photography—capturing the spirit of Rotarians around the world and the communities they serve—enable the organization to move forward with a more consistent visual expression.

Strengthening the digital experience

Siegel+Gale was also asked to evaluate Rotary’s digital presence—a critical set of touchpoints that drive understanding, create relevance and inspire engagement with its 1.2 million members as well as appeal to millions more.

Rotary’s website largely functioned as a repository of information for members. The team recognized that in order to elevate the collective impact of Rotary and deliver on its new public image strategy, the member and non-member digital experiences needed to be drastically simplified and dramatically amplified on the web and for mobile. In partnership with our production partner, NorthPoint, we developed a responsive site to meet the freshly defined needs of Rotary International, The Rotary Foundation as well as current and prospective Rotarians around the world.

After conducting extensive global user research and usability testing across Rotary’s digital touchpoints, we found that Rotary would be best served through the development of two sites: My Rotary, for members, and Rotary.org, for non-members. By carefully considering Rotary’s audience and their needs, we also delivered on our Simple is Smart philosophy developing two smaller sites that use the new voice and streamline content.

My Rotary—a site catering to the needs of members, including new collaboration features, provides relevant information to members based on their role, interest and location to create a more personalized experience. Rotary.org was developed using the new brand architecture framework as the organizing content and navigation principle, and is an engaging experience where visitors can become more familiar with the organization. We positioned the experience to increase membership, and foster collaboration and participation.

The goal of both sites is to motivate, engage and inspire current and prospective members, donors, strategic partners and staff. Together, My Rotary and Rotary.org convey Rotary’s global vantage point and its active engagement in communities around the world. With a responsive site design approach that provides an optimal experience across a spectrum of platforms—from desktop to tablet and mobile—Rotary is now fully equipped for the new digital age. The sites provide the information people need, when they need it, wherever they need it, in less time.

A meaningful legacy

Working through the lens of simplicity, Siegel+Gale was able to help Rotary communicate its global impact in a manner that is relevant and meaningful to its various audiences across all points of interaction.

“Rotary has always been an organization defined by the compassion and great work of its members. With our new public image platform, visual identity and digital experience, Rotary’s passion for a better world is now at the forefront for all to see,” said Rotary International General Secretary John Hewko. “The reaction to our new member site—My Rotary—has been overwhelmingly enthusiastic, and we couldn’t be more excited to embark upon a new Rotary digital age with all of our various stakeholders.”

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